Automotive Technician

Basics

  • Auto service technicians work a wide variety of vehicles, both foreign and domestic. They listen to what a customer lists as an issue, then look over the vehicle to make a diagnosis. Occasionally, they might even take the car for a drive themselves in an attempt to identify a malfunction. Once they have reached a conclusion they find out which parts are needed to make the repair, provide the customer with an estimate, then get to work. On top of maintenance and repair, auto service technicians have to make sure shelves are stocked with appropriate parts in case there is an emergency.

Background

  • Beyond a through knowledge of vehicle maintenance and repair, there aren’t many requirements to become an auto service technicians. In fact, requirements vary by dealership or garage, but as a general rule, auto service technicians typically need a high school diploma or the equivalent to get hired. Some may attend vocational or trade school coursework to perfect their craft, but rarely is that a condition of employment.

Prospects

  • As long as people are driving cars, opportunities for good auto service technicians will be plentiful. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for such workers are estimated to increase by 5 percent through 2018. That is slower than the average for all the occupations, but will always grow.

Salary

  • Salaries for auto service technicians are different based on their years on the job and success of their dealership or garage, but most can earn a living wage. According to payscale.com, auto service technicians make anywhere from more than $29,500 to $48,500 per year in May 2010.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Advantages: Becoming an auto mechanic means you'll have practical skills you can use to your personal advantage. You can maintain your own cars, avoid breakdowns on the highway and fix any problems that do occur.



  • Disadvantages: Tools and equipment are expensive, the entry level wages are small, and there are lengthy hours and constant training. Also shop conditions are dangerous because of sharp objects, chemicals, and heavy machinery.




Working conditions

  • Mechanics work a 40-hour week and more, especially if the mechanic is the owner. The owner operator must not only see to the day-to-day client needs but also to the business needs (bookkeeping, supply order and stocking, customer service). This can easily lead to a longer than normal work week.
  • Mechanics work on heavy machines. Some of the parts and tools used are under pressure. These pieces include torque wrenches and pneumatic tools. Mechanics are taught to strictly practice safety measures to avoid injuries.
  • Mechanics work environments are often greasy and dirty because of the lubed car parts that they work with. The tools and large vehicles may make the environment loud as well. The need for ventilation in the shop--to vent the chemicals used in repairing and painting cars--can make the environment drafty.